Racing: Dettori optimistic about Ascot rides

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The Independent Online

If they remain anxious about their horses, at least Godolphin can have no complaints about the form of their jockeys. Frankie Dettori propelled five winners at Goodwood on Saturday and his deputy, Kerrin McEvoy, continues to excel for other stables, notably with a double at Epsom on Derby day.

There is now just a week before the Godolphin horsebox takes its usual precious cargo to a spangling new environment at Royal Ascot. The British Turf offers few greater contrasts than Folkestone on a sultry Monday afternoon, with just a dozen bookmakers gasping in the ring.

True, it was designated as Ladies' Day, but Folkestone chic extended to a woman with a drip feed from two halves of lager fixed onto a yellow plastic helmet. Dettori was here, even so, and two photo-finish reverses from three rides could not extinguish the afterglow of his 779-1 accumulator on Saturday.

"Tell you what," he said. "If I had won that sixth race, they would have burned the stands down. They were loving it." And so, importantly, was he. Dettori has often been considered a rider who thrives on momentum, but these days he can be relied upon to provide it himself.

While his talk was full of apprehension - divided between Godolphin and the Italian World Cup squad, who have both endured an awkward preparation for the critical days ahead - there is no mistaking his own impetus. The Godolphin team were so disappointed by a mute start to the British season that they made a brief retreat from the racecourse, sitting out the Derby meeting, but both their runners since have won. Since no specific malaise has been identified, it is tempting to conclude that responsibility for their barren start might be shared by bad horses and bad ground.

"No," Dettori said firmly. "You don't mind being beaten fair and square. That's horseracing. But they were running too poorly for that. Obviously it's encouraging that the two we have run since have both won, and it looks like we're coming back into form.

"But we will be contesting championship races, and the horses have missed two weeks. I have to be honest, there's no way we can be quite sure whether or not they are going to be 100 per cent ready. We will be taking most of our big guns to the meeting, but there has to be that worry in the back of our minds."

Two star recruits, Proclamation and Shawanda, make their debuts for the stable next week and Dettori nominated these, along with Electrocutionist and Silca's Sister, as the defining mounts of his week. Electrocutionist has already achieved his principal duty in the Dubai World Cup, but faces a rather greater test of speed on fast ground in the Prince of Wales's Stakes. Silca's Sister heads for the Coronation Stakes after staying on to finish fourth in the 1,000 Guineas.

Shawanda, who suffered a setback during her absence, resurfaces in the Hardwicke Stakes, while the bubbly five-year-old Electrocutionist cannot afford to be too fresh in the Queen Anne Stakes.

"Those are the main ones, and hopefully one of them can make us proud," Dettori said. "Electrocutionist won the Juddmonte Stakes over the trip, but it's going to be a proper race against David Junior and Ouija Board. I'm looking forward to riding Shawanda for the first time in a race. She seems very nice, though obviously as a filly you wouldn't get too stuck into her at home. Yes, Proclamation is a bit hot, but he'll be fine. And I like Silca's Sister. When the stable was out of form, she was the only one who ran a good race, and the form stood up when the second won the French Oaks. You couldn't say we are going there with confidence. There is a bit of caution. But at least we are back on track now, and look like having a half-decent team for Ascot. A week ago it was all looking a bit nerve-racking."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Quarrymount (Worcester 7.05)

NB: Kaveri (Redcar 4.30)